Spiral of Decline or “Beacon of Hope:” Stories of School Choice in a Dual Language School.


  • Timothy Marc Pearson Wyoming Survey & Analysis Center at the University of Wyoming
  • Jennifer R. Wolgemuth University of South Florida
  • Soria E. Colomer University of South Florida




latina/o students, school choice, test score decline, school segregation, bilingual education, dual language schools


Public schools in some areas of the U.S. are as segregated as they were prior to court-ordered busing, in part due to school choice policies that appear to exacerbate extant segregation. In particular, Latina/o students are increasingly isolated in schools characterized as being in cycles of decline. Our case study of one such school is based on a reanalysis of interview, focus group, and survey data from three research and evaluation projects. We constructed accounts of parents’ decisions to leave and remain at Martinez Elementary, a segregated dual language school experiencing increases in Latina/o and low socio-economic student enrollment and decreasing statewide standardized test scores. Interpreting Latina/o and White parents’ accounts through LatCrit theory, we sought to understand their choices to attend this school as counterstories that illustrate conflicting forces influencing Martinez, including high parent satisfaction and interest convergence between White and Latina/o parents. These stories depict a more hopeful account of a school resisting decline, yet only the adoption of managed school choice policies may be powerful enough to counter the school’s segregation.


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Author Biographies

Timothy Marc Pearson, Wyoming Survey & Analysis Center at the University of Wyoming

Timothy Pearson came to the evaluation field following a career as an elementary school teacher. He currently teaches methodology courses to graduate students at the University of Northern Colorado and works as an assistant research scientist at the University of Wyoming Survey & Analysis Center. His research interests include educational policy, prevention and STEM education.

Jennifer R. Wolgemuth, University of South Florida

Jennifer Wolgemuth is an Assistant Professor of Measurement, Evaluation, and Research. Her research focuses on the ethics of social science research. She studies the unintended and messy outcomes of research, including its personal and social impacts on researchers, participants, and those who shepherd research evidence into policy and practice.

Soria E. Colomer, University of South Florida

Soria Elizabeth Colomer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning. Her research explores the negotiation of language and culture in schooling communities. In particular, she considers how educators’ perceptions, ethnic identities, and linguistic skills impact their roles in schools with growing emergent bilingual student populations.




How to Cite

Pearson, T. M., Wolgemuth, J. R., & Colomer, S. E. (2015). Spiral of Decline or “Beacon of Hope:” Stories of School Choice in a Dual Language School. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 23, 25. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v23.1524




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